I awaken to the image of the sun flooded golden shore on Koh Lanta.
I walk the dusty path past bungalows and bars where my neighbors stay swaddled in slumber.
Quiet blankets the beach and shade spills across the sand;
blessed protection from the intense summer sun.
I move one foot, then the other, increasing my speed until I pass the other early risers.
Sweat beads and drips from my hairline
I plunge into the crystalline ocean.
When I return to my bungalow the world has awakened
greeting me for toast and chatter at my beachfront breakfast joint.
I watch couples and families float on water and build sandcastles.
Afternoon approaches and I hop on my scooter in search of adventure
on this gloriously undiscovered island.
I breeze beyond the traffic, beyond the hotels and tourist cafés
until all that surrounds me is jungle
and a few small restaurants run by Thai Muslim families.
I reach the end of the island with a pink-pebbled beach
and a quirky resort
something Wes Andersen might have dreamed.
With no one around me I swim in the cool water
connecting with nature and the magic it still contains.
On the other side of the island development wanes
I look down at the jungle-backed beaches from the hilltops
deciding which to call my own for the rest of the day.
I climb out to the lighthouse at the National Park
the wind blows against me
the views they amaze me.
The sun begins to lower, time to head home
I pass locals shopping in open markets
and hauling in their fishing boats.
I return to the beach for sunset
my favorite time of the day
vacationers sit with their cocktails
I walk for miles along the sand instead.
I meet friends for dinner at a simple, local place
then dance to live reggae and watch fire dancers on the beach.
This is my life on Koh Lanta
sleeping in a simple hut, working in the mornings, taking long runs on the beach
where I feel healthy, productive, and alive
where everything feels easy
where again I feel like me.
Where to Sleep in Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta has a wide range of accommodation from extremely simple dorms and bungalows to luxurious resorts. Long Beach, Klong Khong, and Klong Nin each have a unique vibe and make good bases for exploring. It’s easy to just walk around and find an inexpensive room or bungalow, most range from 350 to 600 baht. I stayed on Long Beach because it had the greatest concentration of backpacker digs and nightlife, but the street was extremely noisy at night with live music until 3am. For those looking for a smaller community I highly recommend staying in Klong Nin or in one of the more remote places on the way to the National Park.
200 baht dorm bed, 400 baht bungalow
I spent my first few nights here in the dorm where I was immediately welcomed by some of the friendliest travelers on the planet. The long term work traders make sure everyone feels like family and I truly appreciated that. There’s always something to do or someone to connect with at Clayzy’s and they even host an open mic night where everyone is encouraged to share their talents.
200 baht dorm bed, 400 baht bungalow
Just down the street from Clayzy’s, Chill Out has similar open air dorm rooms and bungalows. They also have a solid crew of work traders and a slightly more laid back less party atmosphere than Clayzy’s. The small bar and restaurant is a great place to meet other travelers.
400-600 baht dorm bed
This hostel is much pricier than the other options, a dorm bed is the same price as a bungalow at other places, but it has modern facilities for those wanting hot showers, A/C, a clean environment, and the ability to meet other travelers. It’s a clean, comfortable place for those on a budget.
400 – 2500 baht for bungalows depending on the season and room
Stay at one of the most gorgeous undeveloped wilderness beaches at Bamboo Bay Resort. These bungalows are on the Southwest side of the island near the national park.
$150 per night for a private cabin
If it fits the budget, the Sri Lanta Hotel has gorgeous cabins up on the hill with ocean views and an incredible infinity pool directly in front of the Klong Nin beach. I was lucky enough to swim in the pool while visiting blogger Amanda of A Dangerous Business. It’s the perfect place to recharge or enjoy a romantic getaway.
Where to Eat in Koh Lanta
Small local Thai restaurants are scattered around the island and make great stopping points on motorbike excursions, however here are some of my favorite Thai and Western restaurants with official names and convenient locations close to Long Beach.
150 – 250 baht for breakfast, salads, and entrees
With healthy vegetarian food I knew Kunda would be right up my alley, but I underestimated how intensely flavorful the food would be. The restaurant is in Klong Khong, too far to walk from Long Beach where I was staying, so I only had one meal here but it was absolutely delicious. I ordered an enormous salad with grilled eggplant, lots of fresh greens, ripe papaya, a peanutty slaw, and a fresh herb dressing. It was easily the best salad I’ve had in Southeast Asia. The menu had plenty of other enticing dishes and I only wish I could have tasted more.
50 – 150 baht for breakfast and Thai food
I ate here nearly every day because of its convenient location right where I stayed on Long Beach and affordable prices. The staff doesn’t exactly have the best customer service skills but the location is right on the beach and the prices are about as low as you can get on Koh Lanta. I had perfectly poached eggs and whole wheat toast for breakfast most mornings for only 50 baht and the massaman curry is to die for with whole cinnamon sticks and star anise.
50 – 150 baht for Thai food
This is a popular spot for typical Thai fare in Long Beach and is usually packed and lunch and dinner time. The dishes are excellent but if it’s full you will have to wait quite a while for your food.
100 – 200 baht for entrees
Somehow I missed out on eating at Drunken Sailor’s during my time on Koh Lanta, but the glowing reviews on other blogs and inspired fusion menu make it a must visit. They have a good selection of Thai and Western food including innovative desserts and Vegetarian dishes like Indian samosas. I will definitely be checking it out my next time on Koh Lanta.
200 baht and up for dishes
This is the place to have a splurge meal. The innovative fusion tapas menu rotates every couple of months and dishes are decadent and delicious.
150 – 300 baht for entrees
When you need a break from Thai fare, Greek Taverna has generous and delicious greek platters with grilled meat, salad, pita bread, hummus, and all of your other Mediterranean favorites. The portions are huge and you can definitely share.
What to do in Koh Lanta
Take a run in the morning or late afternoon on Long Beach
Explore the remote beaches on the back of a scooter
Take a nature walk at the national park
Visit one of the island’s caves
Have a cocktail at sunset on Klong Khong
Take a snorkel tour out to the Trang Islands
For more about Koh Lanta, check out these blog posts: